Belgium's sometime divided film communities are teaming up in an effort to win over the British public and UK distributors.
They are taking over London's Curzon Soho cinema to hold a week-long (Mar 30-Apr 5) showcase of modern Belgian films under the banner United Tastes Of Belgium.
The event is jointly backed by the Wallonie Bruxelles Image promotion agency for French-speaking Wallonia, and Flanders Image, its Flemish counterpart. Facilities outfits Antemak and Studio l'Equipe are among the industry sponsors, while brewer Stella Artois and a chocolate manufacturer have come on board to enrich the mixture.
"Our first objective is image building. After all many people still assume that Belgian films are French," said Rita Goegebeur, London organiser and executive producer of the event. "Sales would be a luxury."
Of the seven films so far confirmed only one has so far secured a theatrical release in the UK, traditionally one of the hardest markets for foreign-language pictures. The Carriers Are Waiting (Les Convoyeurs Attendent) will kick off the event and be given its UK release by Artificial Eye the following day. Other films include Patrice Toye's Rosie, Jean-Luc and Pierre Dardenne's The Promise, Danny Deprez's The Ball, Benoit Lamy's Combat De Fauves, Marion Handsel's The Quarry, Paul Cox's Molokai: The True Story Of Father Damien and Vincent Bal's Man Van Staal which will appear at next month's Berlinale.
"While it is sometimes difficult to speak of a single Belgian film industry, both parts face a common problem, that of a larger neighbour which speaks the same language," said Goegebeur yesterday.